Shadow of war looms on FIFA World Cup 2022

Shadow of war looms on FIFA World Cup 2022

In the early hours of 22nd February, Russia invaded Ukraine. These events have sent shockwaves across the world but, what are the implications for the FIFA World Cup 2022 and other sporting events?

Football (or sports in general) often intertwines with geopolitics and recent events might dictate the future of football moving forward.

Even before the 22nd of February’s events, Ukraine loathed facing Russia in major tournaments. And UEFA obliged, the European governing body has always structured its tournaments in such a way that, the two nations don’t face each other, due to Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea.

However, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has muddied the future of football further. UEFA has called a meeting to discuss the fate of Gazprom Arena, which was supposed to host the Champions League final. Similarly, Lokomotiv Moscow and Zenit St. Petersburg’s games might also be cancelled altogether.

But this might just be the first domino to fall in the collapse of the normal order of sport. Poland’s World Cup qualifier against Russia is scheduled to take place on March 24 at the Dynamo Central Stadium in Moscow. However, Poland have not asked for the game to be suspended but want clarity on its staging.

Additionally, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has also promised the harshest possible sanctions on Russia. EU could also freeze Russia’s assets in Europe. Meaning, Roman Abramovich’s control over Chelsea F.C. might also come under scrutiny.

This is true for all sports. Sebastian Vettel in an interview condemned Russia’s actions and called F1 to move the Russian Grand Prix to another venue. More sports will pull out in due time

Concerns over FIFA World Cup 2022

The biggest concern, however, is for FIFA World Cup in December this year. If the conflict escalates further, it would send the tournament into disarray. The 2022 edition of the tournament will most probably be the last one for the likes of Ronaldo and Messi.

Liverpool stars such as Virgil van Dijk, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Mohamed Salah or Sadio Mane would also miss a chance to win at the biggest stage for their countries.

God forbid that the Russia-Ukraine conflict escalates into something more. But there’s a distinct possibility that, what we call the ‘normal order’ of things, won’t exist anymore if any such circumstances of World War 3 arise.

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